harassment

My Boss Sent Me a Dick Pic. What Should I Do?

A woman telephoned our law firm the other day to ask one of the starkest questions we've ever heard:  “So, my boss texted me a dick pic last night.  What do I do?” 

It's an infuriating fact of life: women who want nothing more than to have a good career and earn a good living confront some ugly behavior by men.  Sometimes that behavior is outright illegal; sometimes it is merely disgusting.  In either case, it can be helpful to have the advice of an employment lawyer.

So, if your boss emails you a picture of a penis, or if he texts you a selfie of himself in underwear, or if sends you a link to porn, what should you do?

First – Save the message.  You don't have to look at it again, just save it somewhere that it can't be deleted.  For example, if he sends you a picture can only be viewed from your work computer, take a picture of it on your personal phone.  The photo may be repulsive, but it is important evidence.  And the first thing you can do to stand up for yourself and protect yourself is preserve that evidence.

Second – Give yourself some time to think.  Do you like your job, and want to stay?  Or would you prefer to negotiate a severance and move on with your career elsewhere?  Do you want your boss to be fired, or do you want to be able to work with him the future, and move on from this stupid incident?   Do you prefer to handle the situation yourself, or do you want someone else to be your adviser and advocate?   

Third – As the saying goes, "First plan your work, then work your plan."  If you want to leave your job and get a severance, you might want to call an employment lawyer.  If you want to stay at your job, but have your boss disciplined, you might want to report the incident internally.  If you want to handle it privately, you may want to message your boss directly. 

But no matter what, you absolutely do not have to take that sort of nonsense from your boss.  If your boss is harassing you with dick pics or naked selfies or porn, you can contact an employment lawyer and fight back.  Call or e-mail us any time.  We are here to help.

 

Liberal Standard for Hostile Work Environment Claims Under the New York City Human Rights Law

Sexual Harassment – New York City A group of female plaintiffs alleged that the defendant, a doctor, created a sexually hostile work environment in violation of the New York State and City Law.  Plaintiffs claimed that the doctor sent them, as well as other employees (both male and female), offensive emails, and made various sexual comments and gestures toward them, including remarks regarding their breasts. The lower court granted the doctor’s motion for summary judgment, reasoning that the doctor’s conduct would be equally offensive to male and female employees. On appeal, the appellate court held that a jury could reasonably determine that the defendant sent the emails to provoke a reaction from women in the office, and that the plaintiffs were singled out from male employees. The appellate court held that the plaintiffs’ evidence fell short of meeting the severe and pervasive standard required to state a claim under the New York State Law, but that under the City Law, questions of severity and pervasiveness are irrelevant. Accordingly, the appellate court held that the plaintiffs’ claim survived because the doctor’s conduct, even if “isolated,” signaled that the doctor considered it appropriate to foster an office environment that degraded women.  The court therefore reinstated the plaintiffs’ claim under the City Law.  The case is Hernandez v. Kaisman, No. 104989/07 (1st Dep’t Dec. 27, 2012).

If you feel you have been subjected to a hostile work environment, or have been unlawfully terminated, please contact us.

Should I Quit My Job?

NYC Severance Attorneys
NYC Severance Attorneys

Should I quit my job? Our experienced New York Employment Lawyers are asked this question all the time.  Usually, the answer is NO.  If you are thinking about quitting, contact one of our experienced New York Employment Lawyers and Severance Agreement Lawyers.  We can help advise you and possibly soften your landing with a severance agreement. In most states, harassment and bullying are not illegal.  These are only illegal if they are due to race, age, sex, disability, color, national origin, religion, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, genetic information, objecting to an illegal practice of the employer, making a worker’s compensation claim, taking Family and Medical Leave, your testimony under subpoena, serving on jury duty, or some other legally-protected category.

What you should do is report the harassment or bullying to human resources or whoever the appropriate person at your company is.  Make the report in writing.  You have to give your employer time to investigate and take action to stop it.

You should also consider whether you are a victim of constructive discharge. A humiliating demotion, punitive transfer or hostility toward you are among the types of changes that might entitle you to claim constructive discharge after you resign. For example, if you resign because of intolerable discrimination or sexual harassment, or because your employer transferred or demoted you to an undesirable position in retaliation for reporting a wrongdoing, your immediate, resulting resignation might constitute constructive discharge.

Nevertheless, the law hates quitters – don’t do it.  If you want to leave, please contact us – we can help.

Is this Harassment Illegal? | NY Harassment Lawyers

Let our NY Harassment Lawyers help you. We receive many calls from potential clients inquiring whether the harassment they are experiencing at work is illegal.  Most people assume that the harassment is illegal because it is unfair, degrading and/or abusive.  However, NY Harassment Law does not protect employees unless the harassment is severe and pervasive AND is based on a protected characteristic.  This means that we need to be able to prove that the harassment you are suffering at work it a result of your race, gender, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation or other protected characteristic.  If that harassment is not based on one of these protected characteristics, it is not protected by the law.  Unfortunately, the law allows an employee to quit if he is unhappy with the work environment, but it does not protect the employee from the abuse unless the employee can meet the requirements for an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Our NY Harassment Lawyers can help you analyze your potential claims.

NYC Unlawful Termination Lawyers
NYC Unlawful Termination Lawyers

If you have questions regarding whether you are suffering illegal harassment, please contact our NY Employment Lawyers.

Employment Discrimination - Stray Remarks

One remark is not enough to constitute discrimination. When can you bring an employment discrimination lawsuit based on stray remarks? One comment will almost never, standing alone, make a discrimination lawsuit.  Even an extreme statement, such as a racial slur, sexual joke, pornography, or the like is not sufficient to make out a claim for employment discrimination on its own.  There has to be more.  Below are a few examples of what may suffice to show discrimination.

  1. Adverse employment action:  termination, demotion, suspension without pay, failure to hire, etc. might be enough to show discrimination along with that one remark (depending on what the one remark was). For example, if your boss makes a comment about how women with kids need to stay home and then fires you as soon as he finds out you’re pregnant, you might have a pregnancy discrimination case.
  2. Severe or pervasive conduct:  anything short of an adverse action is considered harassment. Harassment has to be either so severe or so pervasive that it alters the terms and conditions of your employment. That means there would have to be many jokes, comments or differing treatment to rise to the level of illegal harassment.

But don’t get us wrong -- the discriminatory remark is very important.  The remark is evidence and if it related to your protected status (e.g., a racial epithet), then it’s direct evidence of discriminatory animus.

What should you do if your boss makes discriminatory comments?

  1. You should report remarks that directly relate to race, national origin, color, religion, age, sex, disability, genetic information or other protected status in accordance with the company harassment policy.  Put the report in writing.  But don’t go to HR every day and every time there’s a problem.  Use your judgment.  Document any remarks and take them to HR after you have a few. While you might report the first remark, if they don’t take action to stop it, then don’t make yourself a nuisance. Do report any acceleration of the behavior or any retaliation.
  2. You have to report harassment before you can even go to the EEOC, and you have to file with EEOC before you can sue. Don’t skip the steps or you’ll have your case tossed.
  3. Bullying isn’t illegal. If the comments don’t relate to your race, age, sex, national origin, etc. then don’t report them unless you’re being treated differently compared to others of a different race, age, sex, national origin, etc. Unfortunately, it is perfectly legal to be an equal opportunity jerk.
  4. Don’t quit.
  5. Contact us.  We can help!